Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Recipe: Cajun chicken

Our family loves roasted chicken, so I try to make it in many types of ways as possible. And here is another way. It's a child friendly recipe. My children love it. Usually I serve roasted vegetables, such a carrots, parsnips and swede with roasted potatoes with it. The best part about that is that you can put the chicken at the top shelf and the vegetables with potatoes in 1 oven dish on the bottom shelf in your oven and it is all done at the same time. I put the vegetables at the bottom of the dish and the potatoes at the top, so they get some more crunch to them.

Origin: Louisiana maybe. I don't really know, but I use a cajun spice mix.

Difficulty: easy
Time: 2 hours in total from start to finish, but that is including the 1h30m in the oven, so 30 minutes real work
Serves: 6
Yield: 6 pieces 
Traditional/GAPS/SCD legal, Primal, Paleo

Equipment:

  • Oven
  • 1 oven dish
  • 1 roemer topf or a oven dish with a lid

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken of about 2 kg
  • 1 jar of cajun spice mix of Steenbergs
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • celtic sea salt
  • black pepper

Things to do ahead:
1 day ahead - defreeze chicken
1 hour ahead - soak your roemer topf and take your chicken out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas4
  • Put your chicken in the roemer topf.
  • Cut your lemon in half and cut one half again. The other half you squeeze out over your chicken. The other 2 you squeeze out into the cavity and put the squeezed lemons inside.
  • Put the part of the thyme inside and part under your chicken.
  • Spread about 2 tablespoons of cajun spice mix over your chicken on all sides. Massage it in well.
  • Close the lid of your roemer topf.
  • Put your roemer topf into the oven for 1 hour.
  • After the hour take the lid off your roemer topf. Put up the heat to 220C/430F/Gas7. Pour the cooking juices as well as you can over the chicken.
  • Leave the chicken in for another 20 to 30 hours. Depending on how heavy your chicken has been. When it's somewhat under 2 kilos 20 minutes is usually enough. When it is over 2 kilos 30 minutes is often necessary.
  • Make sure your chicken is cooked well by checking whether the juices run clear.
  • Take your chicken out of the oven, put the lid back on the roemertopf and leave it standing for 30 minutes to an hour to rest.
  • Take the bones out of the chicken and let the chicken absorb the juices a bit.
Enjoy!


Sunday, 11 December 2016

Christmas / Yule tide present wrapping

Recently I came across a lovely video from Olio about Christmas / Yule tide present wrapping. What they explained in the video is that alone in the UK the amount of wrapping used could stretch from here to the moon. That is quite a lot of paper and not particularly good for the environment. So they shared some eco friendly alternatives in their video. Enjoy the video!



Other than that I do love Olio as they have an app on which people can share their food leftovers, so that others might use those. At least that is what it started with. In the meantime they also have non-food items available on there. Sometimes with really good stuff. I recommend you use it as well. The more people use it, the less food and non-food will go to waste and the better it is for the environment.

Well... I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings of today.
Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Education: Learning how to learn.

A couple of months ago I joined my husband in his start-up business and took over the office management and marketing side of things. Office management was no problem as I have many years of experience as a secretary, executive secretary and such.
However, marketing was a bit different as I only had a little bit of experience in that from a couple of temporary jobs that I recently had. None of it was very extensive.
So, I decided I should do some courses on marketing and learn more about it. This way I would be better capable of doing the job. I looked online and found some marketing courses on Coursera. After reading through them, I decided I'd like to see whether I would get on with the platform and such first, before actually taking the plunge into the real stuff. Therefore, I did a few courses on nutrition as that is something I'm familiar with and didn't have to put a lot of effort in. I enjoyed the two courses very much. I didn't really learn much from them, so doing the quizzes was easy and I had the maximum score each time.

After having decided that this platform was going to work well for me I signed up for the marketing course I had chosen. But then I noticed that as the material was quite new to me, it was actually a lot harder than the nutrition courses. And in all honesty, I hadn't really done any formal learning in new areas for about 30 years. I had kept up with my interests, but I had done nothing really new and this marketing stuff was quite new to me.
As I struggled a bit, I realised that the way I had been taught to learn in school wasn't really working well for this. and I got very frustrated.
Then I got an email from Coursera and there I read about the course "Learning how to learn" [1]. That sparked my interest as I figured that in the last 30 years the ideas on learning may have totally changed from what I was taught in school and how I was taught the material. I expected that I would get some good ideas from it and expected it would teach me better ways of learning than what I had been doing my whole life.
Well.... this proved to be fully true. I learned so much! I cannot recommend this course enough. The teacher Barbara Oakley is awesome. She speaks clear, calm and is overall very motivating.

There are 4 weeks lessons and there are quizzes at the end of each the lesson. In between the videos there are also practise quizzes. The videos are very clear and the practise quizzes really help to get to know the material well. 

Barbara Oakley also wrote a book, called "A mind for numbers". This book is the companion to this course and goes into the various bits in a bit more depth. It is absolutely fascinating [2]

Lessons 1 and 3 have an honours assignment, which is optional. The honours assignment of lesson 1 I enjoyed and therefore I did that one.
The honours assignment of lesson 3 was quite a different thing for me. but as I want to get the most out of this course, I feel that have to do the honours assignment for lesson 3 as well, however daunting.
Unfortunately it is something totally new to me, so I ended up getting very stressed about it. But because of all the things taught in the course I actually managed to write this blog post, as this is what I am doing for the honours project of lesson 3.
This post was written in half an hour chunks as I thought I couldn't do it, it was too much, it was, daunting and scary, it was more than I could ever do. But broken down in chunks of half an hour it did slowly start to take shape. For me this time, at least twice a day, worked out fine. I will keep using that strategy for anything difficult in the future as it helps me to calm down and do little bits that I can oversee. [3]
I have been using the learned techniques to get past my fear and getting through the writing of this post. I used techniques such as chunking, interleaving, using the focused and diffuse mode of thinking amongst others.

I would like to explain to you a few things of what I have learned in this course, so that you get a bit of an impression what this course is all about and what you could get out of it.

Chunking
During my learning process I have started using this system called chunking. It had never occured to me, but this is a totally natural way of learning. Babies and children learn everything this way. When they start learning to speak they initially learn to say a word, but don't really know all the connections or the meaning, they just copy and paste it into their brain and they will repeat it days on end, just to get a proper grip on it. And after a while it is totally natural to them, they know what it means, the connections and all there is to know about the word.
I'll try to explain what it is, as it is quite nifty. I actually had no idea that the brain worked in that way.
A chunk you can compare to a puzzle piece. So basically you learn the stuff that you need to learn in bits and pieces, like puzzle pieces. Initially that may not all make a load of sense, as it may take a bit for your brain to sort through all those pieces to connect them. But when you keep learning the bits in chunks, and of course you will have to repeat the important parts several times and over several days, as you need to strengthen your brain muscles. Just reading something once isn't going to make you retain it. So you divide what you need to learn over the time that you have to learn it in, and take regular breaks. The breaks are also really important. For my learning I use a system called pomodoro. This gives me 25 minutes of concentrated work time and a 5 minute break. Most of the time this works really well for. After a four of pomodoro sessions there is a longer break, which is 15 minutes. Of course you can change this, in case it works better for you to take a longer break after 2 sessions. This is just the way Francesco Cirillo came up with it in the late 1980s and it works for me [4]. Some people take different times, which is in most apps easy to change.

Pomodoro
This is how the technique works.
  • Decide on what you need to do. 
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes (or whatever else you feel is right for you) 
  • Work until the timer goes. In case something pops up in your head, write it down quickly and continue concentrating on the task at hand.
  • When the timer goes, mark where you were and take a short break, usually 5 minutes. After 4 pomodoros, you take a longer break, usually 15 mnutes.
  • Repeat this process.
I don't always end up making 4 pomodoros due to time constraints, but even when I just do 2 per day, it changes things for the better for me. I get to concentrate on my work, using my focused mode of thinking and during the breaks I just let go, letting my diffuse mode of thinking take over. Sometimes after those breaks I actually start seeing things in a better way, or connect things, which wouldn't have happened had I kept on focussing. I just love doing this. 

Interleaving
This is jumping back to revisit and deepen my understanding of a topic that I have already covered. A palaeolithic flint-napper didn't learn how to do it in 1 go. He/she would sit and train for years and years to perfect his/her skill. Present day flint-nappers haven't been able to get to that level of skill yet. The smooth repetition creates muscle memory, so the body knows what to do from a single thought. These days we do the same with driving a car or riding a bicycle. This happens as we recall one chunk, which ties all the other chunks of the complex steps involved together to perform the job at hand, be it flint-napping, driving or riding a bicycle.

Procrastination
With procrastination you want to make sure that you do not have to use all your willpower to conquer it. That would take a lot from a person. It is better to just use a little willpower to get over it. This you can achieve by first dividing the job at hand in little jobs that you can oversee, that won't get you too stressed and worried. You wouldn't climb the mount everest in one blow either. 
Then you make sure that after every bit that you do, you reward yourself for a job well done. It doesn't have to be much, a bit of gaming, a cookie or whatever you like really. What can be another good idea is to make appointments with yourself to do the job at hand once or twice a day in, say, half an hour sessions, or 25 minute pomodoro sessions. You can time that for yourself and then reward yourself afterwards. When you plan to do it that way it will all get done bit by bit and it will not be so exhausting and stressful. Writing this post I have done that way, as it seemed like a huge mountain to me. I was convinced I couldn't do it. And yet here we are.

Sleep
During sleep the cells in your brain shrink a little so that all the toxins built up during the day can pass through easily and be disposed of. This is very beneficial to learning and test taking. A clean brain does its work so much the better than a brain which hasn't been able to do this. That is why sleep is very important to learning and to test taking. So from now on get enough sleep before you do a heavy bit of learning or you need to take a test. Staying up late and trying to cram it all in isn't going to do you any favours.

Imposter syndrome
The most important thing I got out of this course is that anyone can learn anything and at high levels. I have always suffered from the Imposter syndrome, where I think that I am not in the right place and am really not cut out for what I am learning. But in this course I learned that many people feel that way, even many real academics. Many people think that they did well for this test, or during this class, but next time it will all go wrong and then everyone will know that they are an imposter. It was fascinating hearing very skilled academics talk about this in the optional video interviews. 
One of the academics interviewed was talking about how he addresses it in a lecture at some point and then while doing his talk he sees people's faces change in recognition and then start looking around and then most people in the room have the same change in their faces that they recognise this feeling. 

References:
[1] All of the above information comes from the Coursera Learning how to learn course
[2] A mind for numbers - Barbara Oakley
[3] Interview with Dr. Richard Felder & Dr. Rebecca Brent video 3 of lesson 4 & effective teaching
[4] Pomodoro - wikipedia

Monday, 24 October 2016

cooking at home

homade made chicken doener, pita breads, garlic sauce & vegetables
As I am doing several courses at the moment I do not have a lot of time on my hands to waste on all kinds of stuff. But I do still cook for my family, I like cooking and baking, so most days I make all the meals from scratch for my family.

Home made chocolate cake with white chocolate buttercream
Because of the courses that I do, 2 on nutrition and 1 on marketing, I have come to a realisation. Most people these days are very heavily influenced by the marketing and advertisements of food companies. Those companies want to sell their unhealthy products and make a lot of money. They had to create market. Itt is in their benefit to make making food seem like it is a LOT of work, NO FUN and very DIFFICULT. And NONE of that is true. Making food isn't a lot of work, actually when you learn how to do it well, as our ancestors did. For me that would be my parents and grandparents, but depending on which country you are from and how your family was, it may be that neither your parents and maybe not even your grandparents made most foods from scratch. So when you've grown up with that you may not be aware of the easy, time savings, money savings and the fun that it can be. I know a few families where food is rarely cooked as nobody has a proper clue on how to do things and they haven't learned in school either. It is quite sad at times to hear people talk about food. I also know of families where cooking isn't done because it would make the kitchen dirty or any of those ideas, it's really really a sad state of affairs.

So, despite having 4 home educated kids, doing 3 different courses and helping out my husband in his business I still make our food most days of the week. My husband does some other days and every now and then one of my kids makes food. It works out quite nicely this way. We also make sourdough bread, sauerkraut and other ferments. That doesn't mean it all always goes smooth, but it mostly does. It has actually been quite a while ago that we had take-away. We do occasionally have some pizza's or so, which are pre-made and we only have to bake in the oven. But my kids prefer home made pizza, so that is a rarity as well. I think in the last 2 months it happened once. And take-away is even longer ago.

When making your own food you have so many more possibilities than you have with processed foods. A pizza can have any type of topping you want. When I make home made pizza. I use 2 large baking sheets and put the dough on that - there are 7 mouths to feed in our house at present - then I put the pizza sauce (home made) on top and from there we have a selection of choices. Everyone can have some input. Frequently I make 2 different pizza's so that everyone is happy. And lastly we put the cheese on top. We rarely have left overs.
And then there is the pizza from the Alsace, which i learned about in Switzerland, flammkuchen. That is so tasty! It just has a sour cream / double cream topping, then onions and bacon bits on there and it goes in the oven. That also disappears very quickly and is so easy to make!

Futhermore there are any number of ways to make meats, roast, cook, fry, whatever. Any number of spices can be used to flavour them. For me garlic and onions are always on any meat. As that just makes it all so very tasty.

Vegetables. there is no limit on how you can make them. So much fun.

So despite the fact that the food companies have tried their best to make everyone think it is too much work, too difficult and no fun. I actually am convinced they are totally wrong. They are only doing this to sell their products. They have indoctrinated people into thinking this and it is patently not true. Making food is loads of fun. Especially when you do it together with family members. I prefer only have a few with me. Having 7 people in the kitchen isn't a workable situation LOL.
But having 1 or 2 people with me is really nice, you can chat about the day, or - as my husband and i often do - have a business meeting while preparing dinner.
And it is so much more tasty. You can use so many different natural ways to flavour your food. When I make chicken korma I make it the way I like it. The way I have had it from the take-away was quite a disappointment, as it also was from the supermarket. Loads of salt and not enough flavour. I have read up on korma dishes and found that the spices are where it is at. In India spices are the big thing anyway. We do not like the extreme hot spiciness from India, but we do like food from India. So when I make a dish from India I use less burn and keep the flavour.

Making soups is really easy as well. You can use any number of meats and vegetables and even mix them. You can blend or not. Whatever you like. I have a friend who tends to make a soup with the leftovers of the previous day and add some flavour that fits and there it is. Nothing difficult about that. She does always have home made broth going. So do I. There is always a broth going on the cooker or in the slow cooker.

Oh... and then the slow cooker. The most wonderful tool in the kitchen. Any stew and soup can be made in that. Cut the evening before. Keep in the fridge. Put in the slow cooker in the morning, and your dinner is done by the evening. How easy is that!

Now that I am so much more busy we actually pre-cut most of our foods on the weekend. This includes lettuce and such. The best way to keep all vegetables is in the fridge, all in separate bags or boxes. Meats all go in the freezers. I plan my meals ahead, so I know which vegetables keep longer and can be used later in the week. Some parts, that require that, we precook on the weekend already and then put in the fridge or freezer. I also make all my salad dressings on the weekend already, they keep just find in a former jam jar or such.

I recently read that Michael Pollan has said in an interview that he thinks that it is very difficult to get obese on home cooked food and I think he is very right with that. The people that I know that are doing a lot of home cooking are definitely not obese. Some may be a bit overweight, but none are to points where it becomes a big problem for their health.

I also think it is very important to teach children to cook. Mine are invited to be with me / us in the kitchen to help out from very young onward. My youngest is no 8, but she has been very good with even knives from about 6 onward. We have always let them help and all of them are very good with making foods. They all have their preferences, which is actually quite a blessing. It gives us a lot of variety. It is amazing to see the preferences between my husband, my oldest children and myself creating so many different types of foods and all similarly tasty.

My children do all loves hamburgers, pizza's, kebabs and all those things. There is no reason for them not to eat it. We just make it at home, unless there is a special occasion. But even then some of my children prefer the home cooked version.

So this is all really not that difficult when you look at it. In case you want me to talk more about specific parts of cooking at home. Please feel free to ask.

Monday, 10 October 2016

WAPF has a give-away!

The Weston A. Price foundation is giving away one full registration. This is amazing! It is the annual conference, Wise Traditions, held this year in Montgomery, Alabama November 11 - 13, with additional activities on November 14.

I would really love to go to the conference, but as it is in the USA there will be so many costs added that this has not been a possibility for me yet. I do hope to go some day. It sounds so good. I have seen various parts of the conference online and have always loved watching those. I do hope that I'll be able to afford watching the conference this year online again on Fleetwood.

To enter the give-away follow this link Conference give away and join. I wish you good luck and hope you win it!

Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question! I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Fleas

Ugh... I so hate fleas and so does my dog. Most years we have no trouble at all. But this year and last year we really had a problem. The reason for that is that our tenant left our house flea infested, and in a bad state overall when we had to evict our tenant,and that tends to become a battle for quite a while I have noticed. I have never had to deal with a flea infestation so it was quite a steep learning curve to get this sorted. We first tried silicon flea killers. It did work, but not to my satisfaction. Then we added the lights with the sticky paper below it. That worked as well and when I combined it with the silicon flea spray it was even better, but still not ideal as they were still there, just in a hugely minimised amount.

So earlier this year I actually resorted to using the drops in the neck of our dog, this stuff was called advantage. That actually worked well for a bit, but since they have come back, despite having done it for the amount of time recommended. I guess they became resistant to the stuff. So this wasn't all perfect either and because that stuff has a huge list of potential risky effects mentioned in the insert I really didn't want to use that again and I also wondered whether it would do the job again as I am thinking the fleas may have ended up resistant to the toxins used in the drops. So I went on a search and found something that I love! The ingredients are natural and non-toxic, that really works well for me. It also has no chance of creating resistance, what's more to want :-) 
And because I love it so much and because it works so well I really had to share with you all :-) So here it goes!

The first ingredient we need is Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (also called DE)
DE is powder, which is quite soft, is made up of the fossilised remains of tiny aquatic organisms called diatoms. It quite resembles dry clay powder. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica. Under a microscope, DE is quite sharp, therefore it punctures the exoskeleton of insects and therewith causing them to die because they dehydrate. DE kills insects by physical action, not chemical, which is awesome, because that means that they cannot become resistant to it. The DE particles are so small so it just feels like a fine soft clay to humans and pets. It is simply the mineral silica. Food grade, fresh water DE is harmless to humans and pets.  

Next we need Neem powder. Neem is a herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries as a very effective herbal insect repellent, repelling fleas, ticks, lice, mites, ants and mosquitoes. Neem has a natural active ingredients that makes it effective . One substance of neem is called azadirachtin, it disrupts the metamorphosis of insect larvae, which means that they do not mature. So by preventing them from molting, Neem keeps the larvae from becoming mature and they then die without creating babies. Azadirachtin seems to so repulsive to insects that they won't touch anything with traces of neem on it. They would rather starve to death. 
Another neem substance is called salannin and that is just as effective of a repellent. In a few studies, it’s been shown to be more effective at repelling biting insects than those repellents containing the chemical concoctions containing deet.
Neem also has many moisturising properties and helps get rid of excess dryness and scaling. It helps with irritated skin as it calms the skin. The anti-bacterial properties of neem prevent any subsequent skin infection. Because DE can be quite dehydrating, neem helps protect your pet from dry skin as a consequence of its usage.  

And then you need Yarrow powder. Yarrow has been used for a very long time and all over the globe. See my other post on yarrow. It is very well know as a wound healer. Therefore it is considered a sacred herb by many cultures. Yarrow also has anti-inflammatory properties, which is great with insect bites and skin conditions. It calms irritated skin. It is also anti-microbial and has pain relieving properties. Because pets with fleas tend to get secondary infections from flea bites, yarrow protects your pet from those and also helps calm the red, irritated skin that tends to happen because of the flea bites.  

And last we need Eucalyptus Essential Oil (Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus citriodoro). Eucalyptus oil is a natural bug and insect repellent. There is evidence that some of the components of eucalyptus oil are similarly effective as deet.  Eucalptus oil also has great antiseptic properties for healing after bites.  If you prefer you could substitute with tea tree oil. It works similarly. I just prefer the scent of eucalyptus.

So how do we make this. It is actually quite easy.

Here is the recipe for homemade flea powder:

Ingredients:
1 cup food grade diatomaceous earth
1/2 cup neem powder
1/2 cup yarrow powder
20 drops eucalyptus or tea tree essential oil, leave this out when you are using it for cats.

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together and put it in a jar and shake. After that you need to find a way to get the powder distributed somewhat evenly over your house and pet. So a sieve or a flour sieve would work well. If you have a icing shaker jar or such, that would be ideal. 
Put it on your pet from head to tail alongside its spine while its coat is dry. Brush its fur going the opposite direction so the powder comes very well in contact with the skin. Make sure you avoid the eyes and nose. Rub the powder on the belly and legs. Try to get the flea powder on as much skin as you can.
Fleas like the warm areas of your pet, so they are more likely to be in the oxters and around the tail and on the belly, so make sure you get those areas well covered.

How often do we need to reapply this.
To use it during the normal flea season, spring/summer, just applying once a month should do. When your pet gets wet from the rain or so you need to reapply.  

If you have a flea infestation, like we ended up with.
Then you will need to do it more often. I have found once a week to be working well, but I have heard from people who do it daily to make it work. It just depends on how bad the infestation is I guess.
You will also need to put this flea powder to your floors, windowsills, door sills, your pets bed and such. Make sure you put it properly in the ares where your pet spends the most of its time, fleas and their eggs will be the mostly found in those areas. Just dust it over those areas in your house and leave it there. Vacuum the next day. Do this once a week for 4 weeks and you should be rid of them.   

I have read that this mix also works well against ticks and other insects. I haven't noticed that yet as our dog doesn't often end up with a tick. Usually once in a blue moon and we just remove it. So I'm not too fussed about that. 

I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings. Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. I'd love to hear from you. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Recipe: Whole chicken shawarma from the slow cooker

In the slow cooker, adding the rub
Finished cooking, just put it on a plate.
Here is another family favourite. When we lived in The Netherlands we sometimes got Shawarma from the Shawarma take-away. In The Netherlands it is actually written differently: Shoarma. Either way, all of us loved it. Frequently we would get it with mushrooms and peppers added or things like that. There were quite some varieties possible in most of the take-aways. But since we moved the first time to the UK we haven't had it much anymore. When we lived in The Netherlands the last time somehow in the area where we lived then there were mainly döner take-aways there. So we hadn't had it in many years. So when I read about it again a few years ago I realised how long it had been ago since we had it and how initially we had all craved it and the kids had asked about it. At some point they asked me to make it myself. But I couldn't see myself buy one of these upright grills or how to actually make it. It looked very difficult from the way they made it in the take-aways. So I had forgotten about it altogether for years. Until a few years ago when I read about it. At that point it was described on how to make it as a roast in the oven. Of course that worked. But it didn't taste as great as I remembered it. So I started tweaking the recipe and read up on other sites about it and asked friends from the Middle East how they made this type of food. So slowly but carefully I ended up getting it better and better. But then I got lazy and found it too much effort to make a roast in the oven. I started reading a bit more and looked up whether I could make it in the slow cooker. I found that some had done it with good results. So I had to try of course. The first time was right away a great success. The whole house smelled wonderful and everyone was more than ready for dinner by dinner time, they had been smelling it all day long LOL. Since I have made it quite regularly and because we love it so much I felt I should share it with you. We usually eat it with pita breads, garlic sauce, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and cucumber. Not everyone eat all with it. I love the raw onions, my kids not so much :-)

Origin: Middle east
Just before eating

Difficulty: easy

Time: 8 hours
Serves: 6 
Traditional/GAPS/SCD legal, Primal

Equipment:

  • Slow cooker

Ingredients:
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 tbsp yoghurt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • butter, chicken fat or such
Things to do ahead:
2 days ahead - thaw chicken in fridge
1 day ahead - start sourdough pita breads
1 day ahead - make garlic sauce

Directions:

  • Grease the slow cooker with butter, chicken fat or such.
  • Make a nice rub with all the spices, yoghurt and lemon juice. 
  • After mixing it well, rub it all over the chicken, which you could cut in bits if you prefer. I usually keep it whole. 
  • Put the chicken in the slow cooker and turn in on low for 8 hours. or 4 hours on high.


Possible substitutions:
dairy - coconut
butter - coconut, tallow, etc.



Ready to dig in

Friday, 16 September 2016

Parenting: your kid feels wronged by another, but does that themselves, now what.

So your child comes to you because it feels wronged by what another person has done or said to him / her. Your child is at that point in need of empathy or at least sympathy. Your child needs to be heard because your child feels bad already, their feelings have been hurt. There is no use in kicking them while they are already down by telling them they do or say the same.

But what I keep seeing happening over and over is that a lot of people feel the need to point out that their child (or frequently I also see it happen between partners) has done or said such and such to others in the past as well. 

Usually they know that quite well, there is no need in pointing it out. They feel bad as it is. No need to make them feel worse. The best course of action is to listen and empathise. That is what the child / person needs. After venting they'll feel a whole lot better and life can go on.

Pointing out their flaws at that point is going to create an argument and bad feelings and will not help your relationship with your child (or partner). The relationship between people living in one house or who are in a relationship of some sort is more important than pointing out flaws. We all have flaws. Nobody is a saint.

In case you decide you do want to discuss the particular point, that's fine, but wait with it until the child / person is in a better place. Once they are in a normal mood you can rationally discuss these issues, while making sure you use the techniques of non-violent communication. Otherwise you're going down the path of an argument again and nothing constructive will come of it. When you end up in an argument it will not help the relationship, nor will it create a situation where something can be done to remedy the issue.

When one of the parents sees the other parent do such things, the opportune action to take, is to discuss it and make sure that the relationship with the children doesn't get damaged any further. Explain why it's wrong and what the consequences will be. It is very well possible to damage a trusting relationship with children, or a partner for that matter, with making someone feel worse when they are already feeling bad. The task of parents is to make children feel safe and meet their needs. Not kicking them while they are already down. In general it's considered emotional abuse when this happens on a continuous basis between 2 partners, so why would anyone do it to children, who are more vulnerable to begin with.

Off my soap box again :-)

Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. I'd love to hear from you.

What did we eat today (29/08/2016)

Nasi goreng & fu yung hai
So today we have a relatively relaxed day. I just needed to do a bit of shopping, but that's all. It's a bank holiday after all, so we should keep it relaxed.

So for breakfast we had:
Sourdough waffles, I had some fruit and a sausage with it and raw milk to drink. The kids all did their own thing with the waffles.

For lunch:
Hash browns in all its various ways.

For dinner we have:
Nasi goreng and fu yung hai.

Somehow for me that is quite a normal combination, despite the fact that the nasi goreng originates form Indonesia and the fu yung hai from China. In many Chinese restaurants in The Netherlands people eat that combination. It is commonly served, frequently together with babi pangang, which is a Chinese style dish with an Indonesian name. What I love about Indonesia is that a lot of people from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds moved there over the centuries and all the dishes these people took along were in some way incorporated into the Indonesian kitchen. Therefore very European vegetables are also commonly used. They are simply used in Indonesian dishes, such as a sajur or a sambal goreng. I love it. It makes making Indonesian food in Europe totally doable.

Together with the Turkish kitchen the Indonesian are my favourites

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Recipe: Bobotie

Recently we had Bobotie again. I do not make it often as I find it quite a bit of work, but because I do love the taste of it I do make it whenever the mood strikes. When I make it I make it on African Wednesday as we eat African inspired foods on Wednesdays.

So recently it the mood struck me again when I was making my menu plan. 

I find Bobotie a very fascinating dish as it is a complete mix of dishes of various ethnic influences. The curry that is used is clearly from India. Some of the spices and the raisins used are from North African background. This is because at some point in history travel on the African continent became easier and trade started happening, so in South Africa they could add North African spices and such to their dishes. The combination of dried fruits and meats is definitely from North African influence.
The chutney is again from India.
It also contains allspice, this comes from the Caribbean.

It is totally understandable that this dish is a such a lovely mix. When you look at the history of South Africa you can see how many different people settled there over the times and all left their mark on the kitchen, as it always happens.
The Dutch have settled there, they made a farmers colony in Kaapstad, this was to make sure that their ships on their way to Indonesia and such could load fresh foods for the seamen. This made the trips a much less unhealthy experience. The Portuguese settled. The Dutch took workers (probably slaves) back from Indonesia and Malaysia.
After this the French came over. They brought their grape vines and there we have the South-African wines from.
Of course the British wanted to be there as well. They were travelling the whole world and really would like to have their finger in the pie. So they more or less kicked the Dutch out of the coastal areas, so there is also the influence of the British, who then brought people over from India and China. So there you go, a lovely mix of many people of many backgrounds and it all comes out in lovely food. 

Some people call it South Africa's Shepherds pie, others call it South-Africa's answer to Moussaka :-)

I served it with the standard yellow rice, and this time with peas, though generally it seems that Bobotie is normally served with a salad, or so I have been told.

Origin: South Africa (and the rest of the world ;-))

Difficulty: easy
Time: a bit over 1 hour
Serves: 6 with side dishes, 4 when stand alone
Yield: 4 to 6 pieces
Traditional 

Equipment:

  • pan
  • oven dish
  • oven

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • butter, lard, beef drippings or such
  • garlic to taste (I like to use several cloves)
  • 1 kg beef mince, not the lean variety, it makes the dish dry.
  • 3 TBSP bread crumbs
  • 2 TBSP curry powder, I used korma powder, usually madras powder or paste is recommended
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs, dried
  • 1 tsp clove powder
  • 2 tsp allspice powder
  • 2 TBSP chutney, I used red onion chutney
  • 3 TBSP raisins or sultanas
  • 6 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 300 ml milk (full fat, raw)
  • 3 eggs

Things to do ahead:
1 day ahead
You can make the meat mixture a day ahead, put it in the ovenproof dish and put that in the fridge.


Directions:
  • Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F / gas 4.
  • Fry the onions in butter for about 10 mins until they look glassy, stir regularly. 
  • Add garlic and beef, keep stirring, make sure the mince falls apart in small bits. You want it as grainy as possible. 
  • Stir in the curry, herbs, spices, chutney, raisins and 2 of the bay leaves.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Add bread crumbs
  • Leave it cooking for a bit, until all flavours have combined nicely. 
  • Put it all in a ovenproof dish. Press it down and smooth out the top.
  • Beat the eggs and add the milk with some salt and pepper.
  • Pour it over the meat mix.
  • Put the 4 left over bay leaves on top.
  • Put it in the oven and leave it there for about 40 minutes. Check after about 30 to see whether the topping is firm and has a golden brown look to it.

Possible substitutions:
dairy - coconut
butter - coconut, tallow, etc.
beef mince - chicken mince, turkey mince, pork mince, lamb mince

Enjoy! Let me know what you think! Leave a comment or ask a question. I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Menu plan for the week from 3 September

Every Tuesday or Wednesday I make a menu plan and right after I do my online shopping. The shopping gets delivered on Thursday and Friday, so my menu plan starts on Saturday. I have themed the days of the week to have meals from a particular area of the world as we like to eat varied. 
I try to implement eating liver, heart and fish regularly. Somehow I'm much more successful with liver than with fish and heart. 
I usually offer a fermented food with the meals, though those are usually not on my menu list, unless they are of a special sort. 
I try to have a small salad with our dinners. I'm not every day successful with that though.
Soups we tend to have for lunch, simply as broth is important to have on a daily basis and we all like soup. My sauces are usually made with broth, milk or cream, never just water.


Day Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Saturday Sourdough pancakes Onion soup, bread Salad, beef tacos
Sunday Eggs, bacon, sausages Mushroom soup, bread Salad, stifado
Monday Sourdough waffles Chicken soup, bread Salad, cashew chicken
Tuesday French toast, smoothie Vegetable soup,
sausage rolls
Salad, flammkuchen
Wednesday Sourdough crepes Tomato soup, bread Salad, chicken döner,
falafel, hummus
Thursday Toasties Chinese chicken
soup, bread
Salad, pasta Michel
Friday Butterscotch porridge Stir-fry coconut soup,
hotdogs, buns
Salad, leftovers

The vast majority of our grain dishes are made with sourdough. I have a bowl with sourdough starter standing on my counter and I use the starter to make the waffles, pancakes and other breakfast meals. I feed it every day, so it is necessary to use it regularly, otherwise the amount would overflow my kitchen some day.
The toppings vary from sweet to savoury, depending on the person and the mood.
The rest of our grain dishes are made with soaked flour / grains. The porridge is also soaked.
The soups are make with home made broth.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Info: Your ancestors didn't sleep like you.

For a while now I have been fascinated by how our ancestors slept. I have read about hunter-gatherers, but also stayed closer to home and in time closer to home. Even in the 1800s people didn't sleep like we do now, the 8 hour stretch. This started with the industrial revolution and people, and children, needed to go away from home to work. Therefore they needed to sleep in 1 blow as they needed to get up early again. Street lights and other novelties made more light available as well, which inhibits sleep.

In the times of the cottage industry it didn't matter when and how people slept. They slept when they were tired and worked and lived the rest of the time. Usually this meant that they would sleep when it would get dark and get up when it would get light again. But this also meant that their nights were much longer than our 8 hours, more like 12 hours. So what often happened was that people would wake up after about 4 hours, would get up and do stuff, such as tending the fire, reading, writing, praying or such. Things that could easily be done in the night, and after a while get back to bed again for another 3 to 4 hours. I have also read about people actually doing some left housework, some handwork or such. Things that could easily be done by candle light.

As i love reading historical fiction, such as Poldark, Outlander and such I was amazed to see this phenomenon of "first and second sleep" mentioned in some of those books as well. I really like this and wonder whether I would feel more fit when I would try doing that. 

Just now I read a fascinating article about the whole thing, which is much longer than what I just wrote above. Though I think it could benefit people to go back to a more natural way of life, the writer of the article is of a different opinion.

Here is the link: Your ancestors didn't sleep like you

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Mother's metabolism, not birth canal size, limits gestation.

Today I read a very interesting article. It seems that the theory that human babies are born earlier in their development than primates and other mammals because we walk upright is not seen as correct anymore. The new theory shows that it has to do with the metabolism. To be that rings more true than the older theory.

Here is a bit of the text, below you will find the link.

quote

Long-held theory on human gestation refuted: Mother’s metabolism, not birth canal size, limits gestation
Date:
August 27, 2012
Source:
University of Rhode Island
Summary:
An anthropologist suggests that the length of human pregnancy is limited primarily by a mother's metabolism, not the size of the birth canal. The research challenges the long-held notion of an evolutionary trade-off between childbirth and a pelvis adapted for walking upright.

unquote

Link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120827152037.htm

Enjoy+

Please leave a comment or ask a question. i'm happy to reply.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Plum Jam



Last Friday we went over to the house of a friend to pick some plums and such. She's away for a bit and her trees are full of ripe fruits. So we got several kilos of plums that were very nice and ripe. We went fairly early in the morning, so that we would have the afternoon free to make jam and whatever else I wanted to do. We only made jam this time, but I'll probably go by next week again and then I'll make a pflaumenkuchen, that is German for a typical German plum cake. This cake is made from a sweet yeast dough and very tasty.

Anyway, this time we came home with well over 2 kilos of plums and as I had enough jam sugar we right away started washing the plums. I then juiced a lemon. I made twice a 1 kilo batch as my biggest pan was already taken for other stuff. So I just did it twice. It doesn't take that long anyway. So first 1 kilo of plums and the juice of 1 lemon go in the pan until the plums fall apart. After that I added 1 kilo of jam sugar and then I let it cook for about 6 minutes, until it started to gel. Then I let it sit for about 15 minutes, while I sterilised the jam jars with hot water. I put those out to dry and by the time the 15 minutes were done the jars were ready. Then they got filled and were left to cool down. The next day we had pancakes with plum jam and whipped cream. Soooooo tasty!

Home made supplements

Yesterday I made home made supplements. I made liver capsules and I made turmeric capsules.

For the liver capsules I dehydrates my chicken liver in my Excalibur dehydrator. I only have a 5 tray dehydrator, I should really have gotten the 9 tray, but hey, you live and learn.

Anyway, the dehydrating takes a bit of time, about 24 hours. Try to make sure that you do not dehydrate it to the point of the liver being really hard. It is easier to grind it into powder when it is still slightly flexible.

Once you have it dehydrated you can put it in a kitchen machine to grind it up or even in a mortar and pestle, though that would be more time consuming.
I use my Kenwood kitchen machine and use the nut / coffee grinder attachment as that does a great job.


After that, I put it all the liver poweder in a bowl and get my capsule "machine" out. It is nothing much, but works like a charm. I make size 0 capsules. So I put the longer sides of the capsule in the bottom part of the machine and the shorter sides in the top part. After that I put the liver powder in the bottom sides and push it in with the part that does that.


Then I put the top sides on top and push the bottom sides into the top sides with the machine. After that I push the completed capsules out of the the top of the machine. And then there are 24 capsules finished. It goes fairly quick and easy.

Today I also made turmeric capsules. That is done in the exact same way.

From the liver capsules I take 2 a day as that is more or less equal to 1 tablespoon of liver a day. It has certainly helped me feel better.

From the turmeric capsules I started off taking 2 as I am experimenting with how much I need. This is different for everyone. It is worth researching the use of turmeric a bit before you would start using them. However, you can't overdose on it as it is just a simple food.



Tuesday, 23 August 2016

What did we eat today (23/08/2016)

Today we had a bit of a busy and late day, so we had a late breakfast and I skipped lunch and had a big dinner. Nobody got hungry, the home stayers had a bit of ravioli, so all went smooth. After our late breakfast we went to out local farm to get milk. We usually get milk on Mondays, but as we had enough this week we ended up going today, which is Tuesday. We will see when we need to get some more again. We usually get 20 litres, which usually lasts us 7 days, sometimes a bit more, as this week.

For breakfast we had sourdough french toast. I put maple syrup and cinnamon on mine. I had an orange and an apple with it. For my drink I had a mug of raw milk.

I didn't bother with lunch as I had enough and was on the road anyway. I didn't get hungry until near dinner time, so all was good. I often have that when we have french toast or so for breakfast. When I use eggs or so I can last all day on my breakfast. 

The home stayers had a bit of spinach and cheese filled ravioli with a Sriracha & aioli sauce to top it. I heard it was very tasty :-)

For dinner I have made some sausages, oven potatoes and cooked mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, green beans and sweetcorn). I heated up some home made baked beans that I have in portions in the freezer. I used the recipe from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for that.
The oven potatoes were cooked in beef drippings and I added some butter to the cooked vegetables. Everyone is satisfied today. 

Tomorrow we will see whether I can again satisfy my family with our meals :-)

Recipe: Sourdough waffles

Usually on Mondays we eat sourdough waffles for breakfast. The kids love them. They are very tasty. I learned how to make these from the Gnowfglins sourdough e-course. And ever since I learned them I have been making them. It is a great way to use sourdough starter. My starter lives on my counter and I use my starter quite frequently, most days actually.
To the right you find a picture of one of my waffles this morning. This morning we had ripe bananas so I had banana and whipped cream as my toppings. Very tasty. 

Origin: Europe

Difficulty: easy
Time: half an hour
Serves: 6
Yield: 12 pieces 
Traditional, Vegetarian

Equipment:
  • bowl
  • waffle iron
Ingredients:
  • 500 ml sourdough starter
  • 4 tbsp melted butter, coconut or so
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (I use Le Guerandais sea salt)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp sweetener
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I use home made - you can use other flavourings if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp water
Toppings:
  • maple syrup, sucanat or so
  • fruit, such as raspberries, apples, black berries, cherries, strawberries or which ever you like.
  • melted chocolate
  • whipped cream
  • yoghurt
  • fried bacon bits
  • cheese melted on top
  • fried mushroom slices
  • fried onion slices
  • crispy nuts
  • desiccated coconut
  • you can use spices in your batter or top your waffles with them. I like using cinnamon on top, but really the sky is the limit.
Directions:
  • First plug in your waffle iron. Because you want it to be hot and ready to go when you have mixed up your batter. Mixing up the batter goes really fast. Most of the time my waffle iron has not fully heated up yet when my batter is done, but it is close to being there.
  • In your bowl mix the sourdough starter, the melted butter, the sea salt, eggs, sweetener and vanilla extract together with a whisk.
  • Put the baking soda in a small bowl and add the water, mix it well together.
  • Add the baking soda with water to the batter and mix fast and well through. This will very quickly poof up the batter and make it very fluffy. Baking soda also neutralises the flavour of the acid of the sourdough as it reacts with that. 
  • Now you are ready to make your waffles with your hopefully hot waffle iron.
  • Serve with which ever toppings take your fancy.
  • The waffles freeze really well. I always put the left overs in the freezer. When someone takes a fancy for a waffle during the week they can just take one out and put it in the toaster and have a nice warm waffle.
  • Do make sure you freeze them separately as they can be a real pain to take apart when frozen onto each other. I usually take a sandwich bag and add 1 at the bottom and the other next to it towards the top, fold the bag over so that it is closed and then fold the 2 waffles on top of each other with the bag in between, that way they are easy for all to take out of the freezer and pop in the toaster right away, no need to thaw.

Possible substitutions:
dairy - coconut
butter - coconut, tallow, lard, etc.
sugar - honey, sucanat, maple syrup
chocolate - carob